Before the day heats up, I water the yard.
Lemon thyme’s gone blister dry. Dirt’s rock hard.
Even the Shasta daisies are nodding off –
and the lettuce bed out back needs my help
to survive the stealth digging of my dog.
My job has ended. I’m unemployed –
Grateful, I guess, rather than overjoyed. . .
No more cold calls to overworked folk
who would like to help but simply cannot.
I aim the hose high inside the loquat tree
and without knocking the fruit to the ground
wash the industrial grit from its leaves.
In this cool coastal air, fruit ripens slowly –
Sunday, two wax beans. Today, a blueberry.
Tomorrow (maybe) a strawberry or two.
I ripen just as slowly. Can’t complain –
I’m neither stewed, pickled nor packed in brine,
but still hanging on the tree, a little less flesh,
a lot more skin, not rotten – just drying.
Could be worse – drying’s better than dying.
Dryness is lightness, an opening to breath.
I kneel, pull a few weeds, coil the hose,
breathe in then out and return to the house.
My serious ‘Every-page-counts-Sketchbook’
(oversized, leatherbound) lies open on my desk.
Paints lined up near by. I don’t want to look
at the last painting entered there, but risk it –
Hele on, Mañana, 1989.
Can’t ignore the decades between then and now,
I suppose, but no need for visual links
or painted bits, bridges across those years –
the book itself is link enough, a gift
from the lover of my ex-husband’s now wife.
A painter, now dead. A good artist,
not so great with grace or human kindness.
Maybe the first (well, not really the first)
who made me want to solve this mystery:
How can one be a sensitive artist
making work that sees so wholly the world
and still be a complete fuck-up?
I really can’t think
about my ex and his ex building swimming pools
on land where cows graze on dry-as-dust sage
where rivers high in spring empty out by June . . .
I turn once, twice, set my brush on the page –
watch color sweat, listen as lines crack and craze.
Outside, sirens. An ambulance races
I won’t decide what to paint. I won’t guess.
But (I swear) I’ll listen, I’ll watch, I’ll wait. . .
Let my body conjure up what it will.
If I think about anything, I'll think
about the moon drawing tides up and out,
brushing light on beaches, dressing up
the high struggle of underwater stones
with gleam and glam and glimmer, but leaving
me out of it, leaving me the hell alone.